Eugene Cho

Abortion? To whom it may concern: Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the story that can be lived…

The “a” word: Abortion.

Is there a more emotional conversation in the current landscape of America? Probably not.

Go ahead. Throw stones.
Scream and shout.
Put labels on each other.
Picket. Protest. Make posters.
Conceive rhyming & non-rhyming phrases.
Hurl insults and judgments.
Murder. Murderous. Murdering. Murderers.
Use bible verses, statistics, graphic photos.
Do what you’ll do.

If I may, I’d just like to offer one simple alternative.

My views haven’t changed over the years. I’m against abortion. I believe it is a sin. I have no reticence or ambivalence. I believe it is absolutely and utterly tragic – for all involved. I believe God deeply grieves as with any injustice…but perhaps, a better way to articulate my convictions is that

I believe in the sanctity of life.

Left. Right. Center. Liberal. Conservative. Moderate.

Whatever your adjective, all Christians should be for the sanctity of life – from womb to tomb.
Not just our lives but their lives.
Not just American lives.
Not just the unborn babies’ life but the mother’s life;
Not just his life but her life.
All lives. 

Life is precious.

This truth must be the cornerstone that informs our ethics.

Now, simultaneously, I believe in the freedom for adults to exercise a level of freedom. And thus, everyone hates me and I get it from both sides. Add to this complexity and complicity of it being a serious money making industry and it’s downright convoluted (and more combustible).

For what it’s worth, I’ve written about it before and I’d encourage you to check it out: The Abortion Conversation and The Sequel: Abortion Conversation.

While I clearly believe that abortion is wrong, we as Christians must engage the tension of engaging a pluralistic society- while pursuing everything that upholds the sanctity of life – which includes protecting the lives of the unborn and the health of the mother.  Both are essential. All are essential. But how?

The government should be involved but how does a government legislate and enforce such a value?  And I agree with others that the church needs to be careful not to relinquish – blindly or in totality – our responsibilities to a mostly secular government. As I wrote earlier:

Rather than legislating it, I wonder how abortions can be reduced by speaking and appealing to the Heart and Soul of a person and to make all necessary provisions if a person decides to have that babyIn short, can we maintain choice but do all that we can to preserve and ensure the life of an unborn and the value, health, and life of the mother?  This is where most of us fall short. This is where many leaders and pastors fall short. This is where many churches fall short.

I find it incredibly frustrating and naive when Christians take a stance of being against abortion at all costs but are unwilling to yield to issues that have direct correlation to abortions: sex education in schools (starting in middle school), health care benefits for low income families and women, post-birth care and benefits, usage of contraceptives, etc.

But rather going into a long post (you can check out the links above), I’d like to view the issue of abortion from someone who is around simply because his mother made the courageous  decision to NOT have an abortion.

Let me first introduce you to Gowe – an emerging hip hop artist I have gotten to know from Seattle – and his song, I Wonder, which is dedicated to his biological mother (who he has yet to meet and does not know).The song is about his discovery of his adoption at the adult age of 18 and learning the brave story of his biological mother to turn away from the option of an abortion:

“Ever since I discovered that I was adopted (at the age of 18), I’ve always wanted to write a song that captured my experience and gratitude toward my biological mother.”

Obviously, Gowe didn’t intend for the song to be about exclusively about abortion and probably didn’t envision it being used in a blog post by me about abortion. But that’s my point. The post isn’t about abortion, it’s about life.

It’s about a life enabled because of a mother’s courage to choose life…

For most that have or will go through that dilemma, I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to think beyond that moment. As a pastor, I have walked along with people and words cannot capture the tension, anguish, conflict, and confusion.

But what often speaks to a situation is giving people a glimpse of what is possible…a glimpse of a bigger and greater story. Perhaps, this is one way we can approach not only the topic or issue of abortion but the intense and complex moments of our lives.

I know. I know. It’s much more complex but…imagine the possibilities. Imagine the story that can be lived out.

We need courage.

We need mothers to have courage.
We need fathers to have courage.
We need girlfriends & boyfriends to have courage.
We need parents to have courage.
We need churches to have courage.
We need communities to have courage.
We need to have courage.

What’s an alternative to abortion?

Go ahead. Throw stones.
Scream and shout.
Put labels on each other.
Picket. Protest. Make posters.
Conceive rhyming & non-rhyming phrases.
Hurl insults and judgments.
Murder. Murderous. Murdering. Murderers.
Use bible verses, statistics, graphic photos.
Do what you’ll do.

I just want to to give to you – whoever is reading this – but especially someone who might be considering an abortion…
I invite you to imagine the possibilities that might be…if you have the courage.

Imagine the story we can live out.
Imagine the story you can live out.
Imagine the story you can enable.

* I rarely do this. If you’re reading this – whoever and from wherever -and you’re contemplating an abortion and want/need someone to talk to, please email me here. I promise I will get back to you

Here’s the song.

Verse 1 
Her mind was confused with a plus at the tip of the tube
Sick as she threw up with a cup take a sip of abuse
So she gets nervous cause her man left her
After the sex and he jets she thought that he loved her
You see shes 18, and shes a bit conscious
About her dress and the reflection of her own image
Timid in speech, shes limited given a week
With her tummy blowing up so that people can see
But she decides to keep it, said no to abortion
The feet kicks in her stomach comes without a warning
She feels the pain though, cause her parents cry
And the shame eats her alive when she closed her eyes
Then the day comes, she gives birth to a son
Kim Sung-Hoon, soon she holds and kisses her love
Wishing it never ended, taking a mental picture
Hoping through her tears that her son would have a better future

Chorus 
I wonder if theres a smile on your face
Sometimes I miss you and long for your embrace
I never could thank you, enough for holding on
Dear mama mama mama, forever, I’ll hold you in my heart

Verse 2 – 
So she wonders, what happened to her son next
Is there clothes on his back, food on his plate whats the context
The recollection of the day replays in her mindset
And the ways she would try but just never could forget
Well he’s okay, and he resides in the states
A needle in space in which rain makes it a beautiful place
Embraced by the culture and he’s loved by all the members
Until he turns 18 and his world get flipped
He hears that his mom is not actually his and that complications
Prevented her from having any kids and his real mom
Is actually Korean and she had, to give him up for adoption
Cause she was young and was a student
Lost and was confused and, wrestling in the moment
Am I Chinese or Korean? Am I destined in this union?
And if I am what’s the purpose? I jot it in my verses
So I replay it in my mind as I think about you

Chorus 
I wonder if theres a smile on your face
Sometimes I miss you and long for your embrace
I never could thank you, enough for holding on
Dear mama mama mama, forever, I’ll hold you in my heart

Verse 3 
If I could write a letter, and know that you would read it
I would tell you that I never once in my heart felt hatred
Reinstated I would play a song and dance with you
Hold your hand as I thank the Lord for creating you
As strong as you are cause in my mind I can’t fathom
The pain and the guilt when all you heard was their gossip
And still you stuck through it, when they called you foolish
And with this gift that I possess your probably loved music
I hope you’re doing well, I hope some day you’ll see this
I hope I mean I really hope that you know Jesus on a deeper level
Seeking just to know Him better, I hope in perfect timing we can
See the reason clearer, I hope you’re smiling now
I hope I cross your mind, I hope you never second guess
If what you did was right, cause I’m so proud of you
I love and admire you, so after all these years this is my way of telling you

Chorus (x2)
I wonder if theres a smile on your face
Sometimes I miss you and long for your embrace
I never could thank you, enough for holding on
Dear mama mama mama, forever, I’ll hold you in my heart

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40 Responses

  1. Sejin says:

    This post correlates with the love of adoption as presented in this amazing video:

    http://www.wimp.com/likeadoption/

  2. Kevin says:

    Eugene, thank you for your post. My wife and I adopted 2 children who were judged “medically unadoptable” by the county. The first one, Joseph, passed 2years ago at 26. The second, Brenna, is now almost 28. She has had a tough time and is still not able to connect with her Mom, my wife. When I think of these issues I know we did the right thing to adopt these children. Yet I see so many Christians around me doing nothing to help the countless children and mothers who need help. The pain we experience over our daughter’s rejection of us is sometimes unbearable. Yet I know we did the right thing to help the couple of children that we did. Why don’t more believers see this?

    Thanks for your post.

    Kevin

  3. Kevin Austin says:

    Thank you for the courage to explore this issue in the public forum. I’ve often wondered about how to be pro-choice AND pro-life. Do the two necessarily have to cancel each other out? Is there another way? Certainly we will not find meaningful solutions by yelling at each other, as you point out. . . . You consistently have great insights and are prophetic in much of what you say. Thanks for leading.

  4. Julie says:

    But don’t take away Planned Parenthood. They’re more than abortions.

    • Donna says:

      Abortion is what they’re about.

      • Tracy says:

        Planned Parenthood was the only place I could go to when I was in college and had no insurance or money to pay for my gynecological care. They are the ones who informed me I was pregnant (unplanned), and counseled me. They did not perform, nor coerce me into getting an abortion. They gave me my choices, and I chose life, and adoption. If you think abortion is “what they are about”, you are ignorant, and may you, your daughter, your mother, your sister, or your friend, never have to be in a situation requiring that need.

    • Tish says:

      I agree with Julie…Planned Parenthood offers so much more than abortions. Before I had a job that offered health insurance, I was able to go to planned parenthood for my yearly doctors visits, including cancer screenings. They based the charge on my income. Planned Parenthood gives an option for affortable health care that would not otherwise be able to go and see a doctor. As someone that has used Planned Parenthood for everyday medical needs, abortion is not what they are all about.

      • Amy says:

        There are taxpayer funded Federal Health Services in every low-income city in America. They provide every service a woman needs except abortion. That’s where our tax dollars should go…not to an organization that performs an abortion every 90 seconds.

  5. KW says:

    Awesome rap. I’m a single mom and I felt the confusion of that mom. I did keep her. I was lucky I was 30 and making enough (barely) to take care of her or I too would have had to give her up. Because when everyone is mad its not common to have someone offering to help support you to keep a child. I had no one offer while I was making those hard choices. Least of all my church. They were more concerned I was to be taken off the worship team for my sin. Food for thought.

    • AaronTiffany says:

      Sorry to hear that. I don’t get why the church acts like everything is/should be perfect and real emotions and life experiences should be disregarded as sin without valuing the person as a person.

  6. Gordy says:

    Eugene….very eloquent. As much as I hate abortion and believe it to be murder, women and men should be free to make the decision. I believe it’s sin. But it’s not my call. It’s a personal decision between the mother and God. I hope each women with this decision will seriously consider adoption. While I suspect God takes the innocent regardless, each life should have an opportunity to live this life and make the hard choices and challenges we all are faced with. Is there a more wonderful concept than having the opportunity to surrender to God? This life is an important precursor to the next that no one should be precluded from. And don’t get me started on the opportunity for each individual to have grandchildren.

    • AaronTiffany says:

      If you believe its a sin – similar to murder I’m guessing, then why do we believe we shouldnt do anything about it? Its only between her and God? This is the problem with american church. Its only about me and Jesus.
      We should in loving ways do something about it. You wouldnt just let someone commit murder and go on to say, “well, its between him and God”. No, you would take action. Right?
      No easy answers.

  7. Brrandie says:

    Thank you. This really is close to my heart as I was in a predicament of an unexpected pregnancy a little over a year ago. Thankfully, I had lots of support and one friend in particular who spoke words of hope and courage directly into my heart when I was considering an abortion. She told me that I could totally do this, and I am. It has been the most profound surrender I could ever imagine and I’m so grateful for the gift of my daughter and my husband, and my courageous community. Life is absolutely precious.

  8. Josh says:

    Did you see how the Pro-Choice movement celebrated the day? … Here’s one of their videos titled “Happy 40th Anniversary, Baby” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEMnyiDKUJI

  9. Beth says:

    I used to be staunchly anti-abortion. Then I took a good hard look at Scripture. Most verses used against abortion are taken out of context. Many are from the Psalms. For example, Psalms 139 speaks of God knowing us before we were born. That would indicate that any form of birth control is a sin–since life beings BEFORE conception. Plus, any good theologian does not base theology strictly on poetry. I believe medical science provides us with common sense guidelines for when a life is viable. I wish both sides would come together and agree on a common sense approach. In France, for example, abortions are legal up to 12 weeks–FAR before viability, brain development etc. when the fetus is really the size of a peanut. Viability, on the lowest end, is 28 weeks.

    • AaronTiffany says:

      No viability can be at 28 weeks. I just experienced my baby’s sonogram at 20 weeks. He is moving around. All body parts good and full of life at 20 weeks. I also have a very good friend who was born 3 Months early. Seems like her life was definitely viable at 28 weeks.

      • Tracy says:

        Even if a baby is born full-term, and can “live” outside of its mothers body, it will still die without care. So the arguements about the “viability” of a fetus/baby, are kind of ridiculous.

    • Matt says:

      Actually, brain activity is usually observable by around 10 weeks. And its more and more common for children born at 25 weeks to survive.

      No, a theological point that life beings at conception is harder to make. Ancient Christians used to believe the fetus was “ensouled” at 40days after conception (fairly close to our estimation of when brain waves begin).

  10. Thank you for this. I’m not sure you have the time to respond, but I’ve nominated you for a blog award anyway. :)

    http://murphymusthavehadkids.com/2013/01/22/one-lovely-blog-award/

  11. Chuck says:

    Abortion should never be used for birth control. In cases where a life (the baby) must be sacrificed to preserve a life (the mother) only a very careful analysis will suffice. Some would claim we “own” our bodies, but they were loaned to us for a temporary use. We give them back when they are worn out. Not only do we not own our bodies, we certainly do not own our lives. We are spiritual beings, living in a spiritual world, and while God loves us as individuals our lives have purposes (often unknown to ourselves) to serve in His kingdom. Sometimes, our purposes are fulfilled in generations removed. While we lived, we should be pledged to sustain and protect life. Because we are spiritual beings living in a spiritual world, our individual lives did *not* begin at conception. Christians all have the same birthday; it was on an Easter morning, almost 2000 years ago.

    • Thank you for the courage to explore this issue in the public forum. I agree with you Chuck. “Abortion should never be used for birth control.” And also in cases where a life (the baby) must be sacrificed to preserve a life (the mother) only a very careful analysis will suffice. It’s a matter of concern for both the mother and the father to take a proper decision, not only from the mind but also from the heart as well. As we are spiritual living beings in a spiritual world, we should be pledged to sustain and protect life.

  12. [...] Facebook feed was blown up yesterday due to a 40th anniversary. I read an article from Eugene Cho: To whom it may concern: Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the life that could be lived out. because of it. I’ve read many articles about it, on it, the whys and why nots for and [...]

  13. hopefulleigh says:

    Thank you for moving this conversation forward, Eugene.

  14. [...] Another article worth reading: To whom it may concern: Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the story that can be lived out. [...]

  15. [...] Eugene Cho is quite right to remark that being pro-life is hardly limited to the abortion issue.  I’m rabidly pro-life, and I add to Cho’s list issues such as war and the death [...]

  16. Gina says:

    I’m almost afraid write this comment. It’s not something I admit to others very often. If ever. But I’ve read with interest the debate regarding abortion and thought I’d share from the other side.

    Eight years ago I had an abortion. I was seventeen, homeless, and alone. I also knew nothing of God. I bought into the clinic’s rhetoric that abortion was my best option. And for quite a while it felt like I had made the right choice. I got my life together – job, home, sobriety.

    A year or so ago I started going to church. I had a hunger to connect with God. After attending a women’s group for several months, I confessed to my shame over my abortion. Big mistake. The young women in the group looked at me with such horror. Their phone calls and coffee invites stopped. I am not welcome.

    My desire for God has not stopped. But my active search for Him has. I am afraid there is no redemption for me. I can’t undo what I did. My shame and regret will be eternal.

    I guess I’m just leaving this comment to ask that some sense of mercy be shown to those who have made this decision.

    • Wow, Gina. I’m so sorry that other believers treated you this way. I’m a believer and I show you mercy. :) If you want, come and comment on my blog and we can connect. I don’t proclaim to know my Bible as well as some of those women in your group probably did, but I strive to love and live like Jesus did. I fail a lot but I know He is here and his business is forgiveness.

    • lori says:

      Dear Gina,
      You had a horrible experience. I am so sorry you were treated that way. I am a Christian. I had an abortion. God loves me. God has forgiven me. God loves you, and God has forgiven you. You have not been abandoned by Him, you have been hurt by the human heart that can’t see past sin. Yes, it was a sin. No you are not eternally damned for it. Please find and read “Her Choice to Heal”. It will change your life. God isn’t lost and neither are you…you don’t have to look any further than your own heart to find Him.
      Gina your experience, my experience and the experience of so many others is exactly why this “choice” needs to be abolished. There is NO relief in abortion….EVER. This is the point that Eugene has missed in this post. The choice for life is the only one that will not scar or damage any man, woman or child. What we, as Christians, perceive to be choice is nothing more than a glossing over of what is right and what is wrong. Yes, many more need to step forward and help those who bring life to their children by supporting them financially and spiritually, but we also need to stop the lies from being sewn into the hearts and minds of young women. Speaking to and appealing to the hearts and souls of the women facing the decision is only one part of the solution…..and the one part that I personally, actively engage in. But there has to be a activity on the larger stage because that’s where the lies are being told. And millions more hear the lies than the truth.
      Gina don’t give up on yourself or God. YOU are worth more than the lies you were told, and you are not alone in having bought into those lies. I leave you with this:
      “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”” Luke 8

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Gina:

      Thanks for sharing a glimpse of your story.

      Thank goodness for you, me, us, and them…that our God is merciful, forgiving, and gracious.

    • Lou says:

      Dearest Gina, find another Church that actually has Christians in it. It is a terrible thing that you reached out to these women and they were not able to accept you – that is their failure, not yours. There IS redemption for you. Talk to God and tell Him how you feel. Jesus promised that there is forgiveness. He loves you. I am sending my love to you and I will pray for you that you can find peace in this situation. Please, Please keep looking for a church where people act like Christians – they are out there. I wrap you in my arms in a big hug. Dear Sister in Christ, please find counselling. There are organizations that will help you with this. They specialize in women who have had abortions and find later that they are traumatized by it. These people will help you. You are not alone.

  17. Brandon says:

    I used to go to Quest back when I lived in Seattle about five years ago, and still follow your blog regularly. I pray God keeps blessing both you and Quest with the guiding light of the Holy Spirit! Recently my blog was nominated for Very Inspiring Blogger award, so since yours is one of the few blogs I consistently follow, the choice seemed natural to pass along to you one of my fifteen nominations.Keep up the Lord’s work! :) http://lovefrombenin.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/very-inspiring-blogger-award/

  18. Kristin says:

    I want to give you a different perspective. My sibling and I are here because my mother had an abortion. Had she not, she never would have met our father and gone on to have us. So the question for me becomes, whose life is more valuable? Am I supposed to mourn for that lost life, even if it means had it been kept, I would not exist?

  19. Eugene,
    I’m afraid the effort to be “pro-life” yet preserving the current standards of “choice” requires a leaps and twists of logic. For those of us who consider ourselves progressives, we roll our eyes at the rightwing argument against restricting access to guns (outlaw guns, people will just acquire them in illegal ways) yet we employ the same argument when it comes to abortion (outlaw abortion, people will just move to back alleys).
    In face, by that logic almost all our efforts to move the legal system for justice to the vulnerable our efforts at restricting freedom. For progressive Christians (who I consider myself a part of) abortion has become our big cop out; we’re all about defending the little guys, except when it comes to an issue that’s unpopular with our secular counterparts. Then suddenly we start to respect conscience and freedom; at the cost of thousands of terminated lives.

    I’m not arguing for a blanket ban on all abortion; but to settle for the status quo while paying lip service to the idea of life is moral cowardice. Abortion on demand as birth control is a crime against a class of people without voice, without power, who bear the image and likeness of God. God help us all if we can’t find the courage to even try and find legislative ways to reduce the violence done to the unborn.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      I think you’re right – about the lip service & moral cowardice. And I can say that I don’t want to be about lip service or moral cowardice.

      What are some ways you envision reforming the current status quo on abortion?

      Eager to listen…

  20. Wendy tuck says:

    Dear friend- this touched me deeply – gave me chills as I read the song lyrics. I struggle with this and must confess our society’s ambivalence about life makes it easier to land where I did. It’s ok to kill babies and children in war- Hiroshima, Dresden were justified – social necessity – no other way. Sad. Drone attacks. Sad. But necessary, an unfortunate side effect if we have bitter enemies and the battle to preserve freedom, way of life, the USA… Whatever you like.
    The gray area – I was raped by my dad, clergy, and their friends from the time I was 3-23. I got pregnant by my dad at age 14 and had an abortion. And i was raped by strangers at 18 and 19. Later- good marriage, 3 beautiful kids. Later, depression, suicide ready, wanting to die. Why? Realizing the depth of destruction in my deepest soul and pretending stopped working. I could not function- even with a wonderful husband, tremendous friends, years of counseling, hospitalization, church support (notice: absence of God- silence, impartiality). Twenty years of hell. If I had been asked to give birth to a child of rape or incest….even to adopt… The feelings even while not pregnant of hating, hating my body, my breasts, my vagina, anything remotely connected to female, sexuality, body- I tried to destroy, mutilate, kill.
    You talk about providing sex Ed in middle school and health care and support for pregnant mamas- what about addressing rape, incest, pedophilia, sexual abuse? And here is the gray area- if it’s acceptable in war, in personal attacks- not right, not moral, but maybe we would say unavoidable? To defend oneself? To choose to save and preserve my/our life even if it means ending yours? With all the cultural, financial, support we need to allow moms to choose to give birth- and I agree we women must have the freedom to choose- I think you left out when one must choose between pregnancy/birth/adoption and a woman losing her life or sanity due to carrying a child conceived in rape or incest… For some of us, we simply can’t – unable- to self sacrifice. Maybe if you had kept me strapped down and force fed me during the 9 months of pregnancy – I might have given birth to a live person. Forgive me for the bluntness- there is no other way to give voice to the agony of what you are asking of some women. If they choose, like this wonderful Korean mother… Wonderful. If they don’t choose- at least treat us as soldiers who in war shot little girls and boys- with great compassion for the agony of having to make that decision at all. We know it’s not right, not good, but at some level we choose to let go of preserving one tiny life to save our own. You think of Jewish mamas at Auschwitz who had to choose to let go of one child or the other- life has horrible horrible choices. I am glad you speak for the sanctity of life, but oh, God, the agony when I chose to live instead. I am sad about the abortion, but bigger than that is the rage at dad’s impregnating their daughters and the devastation it leaves in one’s soul. As long as self-defense is justified, accepted, in our society… Self-sacrifice must not be required. With tears and anger and a great deal of thought – I submit this for your consideration.

  21. Lou says:

    Thank you for this article. Thank you for giving a place for people to voice their concerns.

  22. Efua says:

    if a single cell on mars is classified as life and is precious but a multiple of cells in a woman’s womb is not classified as precious life…then there is huge gap in knowledge.

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#MorningFerryRide 
#NoFilter I feel healthier just looking at fruit. #pikemarket Lunch date with Minhee. Her love languages include good conversations and good sushi. This is why I always take the window seat. We are called to be light to the world...and not just merely light to the light. #BigRed Shabbat shalom. #soultalk

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